What started as a falling-out between one Champlain College student and her best friend has become an art project and photography exhibit opening Saturday, April 4 at Maglianero Café in Burlington.
Amanda Schroth, a senior majoring in professional writing at Champlain, was contemplating her senior capstone project when she and her best friend got into a fight. This spurred her to write her thoughts on a postcard, which she never sent. “I found a photograph that kind of reflected what I wanted to say and that’s how they came together. I put them together as my final project,” she explains.
The project has grown from a senior capstone to a full-fledged public exhibit called Postcards Never Sent, which is a collection of black-and-white photographs and written word.
Schroth uses social media to solicit submissions of others' secrets and unspoken sentiments, then couples them with black-and-white photographs of public and hidden places in Burlington. “I just went around asking people, ‘Do you want to submit a secret?’ And a lot of people were very receptive to it,” she says.
The young artist says there will be a wide range of secrets at the exhibit. “Some light-hearted ones and some a little more serious,” she says. The postcards and photographs will be hung up with clothespins and some will be framed. “Almost as if they had been sent and what someone might do with them when they got them,” says Schroth.
Are contributors nervous for their secrets to be displayed publicly? “I think because they have that safety blanket of being anonymous, it’s a little more comforting,” she says. “I do have a couple people telling me they are actually very excited to see their work hanging up with other people’s. And that’s another part of why I think they are so comfortable with it, because they aren’t the only one submitting.” Schroth surpassed her goal of collecting 40 secrets for her project and will be displaying 66 in the exhibit.
Schroth says the photographs of Burlington help enhance the emotion or message that’s being portrayed in the postcards, as well as localize the project. “What I wanted to capture was Burlington and sort of the secrets and the well known spots,” she says. She includes Church Street, but also a picture of a bike that’s not there anymore, describing these as “passing moments,” just like the secrets. “What I wanted to display was how everyone’s words are all the same, in the sense that we all want to say them but we just don’t have the courage to,” says Schroth.
This is Schroth’s first professional exhibit and she says she is very thankful. “It’s still amazing to think that this is happening, especially as just a senior in college. I can’t describe how excited I am,” she says.
The college senior says she is returning home after graduating, but that she still has plans to continue Postcards Never Sent, targeting it towards wherever she ends up. “It is one of the those projects that I want it to be about the community I’m a part of, and I want to connect the community in as many ways as I can, and Postcards so far has been the best way for me to do it,” she explains.
As for the exhibit in Burlington, Schroth hopes those who submitted secrets will experience a release. “I know that it helped for me, with mine, and I also want the viewers to have that reflective part of themselves to connect with the postcards and say, ‘Yes, I wanted to say that too.’ Or, to even think, ‘Was that for me?’ In a way I hope it encourages people either to open up or to find a way to start saying those words, even if it’s not to the person,” she says.
Postcards Never Sent opens Saturday, April 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Maglianero Cafe in the Karma Bird House at 47 Maple Street in Burlington.
A gallery catalog of the exhibit will be available from Champlain Books.